aruba travel
Travel, Destination

Aruba As A Local: What To Do In Aruba

August 23, 2023

Travel Guide

Nobody cares or realizes that we’re going to the right direction. We’re officially in Aruba time, where the moments are measure in joy instead of minutes. Cacti and vibrant buildings blend together, and a reggae re-mix of Chers “Believe” blasts through the speakers. When I hang my arm from the car’s window, and the typical breeze from the island’s heat warms my skin, and I shut my eyes, not looking forward to waking from this nightmare.

I’m not even leaving yet But somehow, Aruba has got me hooke. I’m now urging to end my stay, so that I don’t have to leave what are locals and I consider to be the only happy island.

A week in Aruba seemed like a lot prior to my arrival. With only 8km at its largest, and 30km at its length, this tiny Caribbean island from the shores of Venezuela isn’t a huge one. However, what it lacks in terms of size, Aruba makes up for with its punch. There are plenty of natural wonders in Aruba, along with the more well-known casinos and resorts however, I’m afraid that most people do not venture out beyond their all-inclusive.

Beyond the Beaches

There is nothing wrong in taking a vacation and Aruba is the ideal spot to go on a trip, for those looking to explore more than the inviting waters and the next drink You’ll be happy to discover that a real Aruba remains. With its rugged national parks and incredible night-time stargazing, amazing local eateries, almost empty beaches and caves that are fill with historic paintings and a vibrant graffiti scene Aruba offers more than just a beach getaway.

This Aruba Travel Guide, I’ll walk you through what I was up to, or learned about during my brief month stay in Aruba. As I was preparing my trip, I realized that it was difficult to find comprehensive Aruba travel guides that cover everything Aruba offers, so I’ve attempted to put everything into one place to help you get the most out of your trip.

Aruba Travel Guide

Getting Around

Arubus impressed me with the variety of routes and the services they offer to the island. Although you won’t be able to get everywhere, if you can combine the public bus system with tours, you can have an amazing time on the island. Here are the timetables.

Car hire at the airport is a breeze however I’d strongly recommend using a 4WD vehicle over the standard car, as this allows you to go to places within the National Parks and off-road that the standard car can’t. Amigo is an established local hire company that we rented our cars from.

There are a lot of tour operators on the island, and transfer options are available that may be better to those who are primarily in the resort. I did rent a bicycle for a short time and it was a blast. it’s a flat island, but under the intense sun, it was not ideal for long excursions.

Aruba’s Beaches

Let’s begin with Aruba’s most well-known attractions, its stunning coastline that stretches from gentle laps of waves to mangrove-lined beaches and crashing waves. For a tiny island, there is a wide variety of beaches.

My favorite beach is locate just a few minutes to the south from Airport however, most things can be found within a few minutes in Aruba. Mangel Halto seemed lesser known than the rest of the beaches in the island, particularly since it’s only a short distance far from both the town and the cruise terminal.

Mangel Halto is a mix of white sands and mangroves. It’s an excellent spot for snorkeling. If you stroll from the beach towards the road that runs along the side there’s a mixture of decks and stairs leading directly into the water.

Another one of my favorites is Arashi Beach and the nearest to my hotel in the Gold Coast in Malmok. The beaches this stretch are famous for their snorkeling and, with the addition of a bar and less crowds it was a stunning spot to visit during the daytime or at sunset.

From Palm Beach to Dos Playa

The most popular resort beach located on Aruba is Palm Beach, which is lined with hotels along the length of it. Although I’d heard rumors about the “high rise” beach prior to arriving in Aruba but it’s not that radical in any way. I was thinking that it was like Benidorm with massive tower block hotels, however it’s still a beautiful beach that has some of the most beautiful sand I’ve ever seen, though it is a bit busy.

In Eagle Beach you’ll find a similar atmosphere similar to Palm Beach given its proximity however, it’s not as crowded. There are swings to get the perfect Insta shot, jet-skis available for hire, and a gorgeous beachside restaurant which I had lunch at.

Eagle Beach is also just within it’s Bubali Bird Sanctuary, where there are numerous birds that inhabit the marshlands around here and it’s worthwhile to combine them.

In Hadicurari Beach you’ll find a more authentic vibe due to the fishing community and their huts that are located here. If you’re looking for the same vibe but that is more deserted feeling, head over to the beaches of the east coast on the island. They are less popular with tourists.

If you’re looking for a different beach that is stunning, with waves that crash against rocks and water that could as be photo-shopped go to Dos Playa, the beach located in Arikok National Park. Arikok National Park is a treasure.


Divers And Watersports In Aruba

If you’re anything like me, then sitting on the beach is suitable for a short time before you’re exhausted and ready to go swimming.

The waters in Aruba is warm and inviting which is why snorkelling and swimming is a popular activity. The rental of snorkels is offered in a variety of resorts as well as most of the beaches, with the exception for smaller beaches which don’t have any activity centers.

Palm as well as Eagle beach are likely to have the best options including jet-skiing, kayaks as well as SUP. The prices were fair in this case, and for Aruba in general, with prices of around USD 20 per hour on the SUP and USD 50 for 30 minutes of jet-skiing.

It is said that the Scuba Diving in Aruba is one of the top in the Carribean partially because of its outstanding coral reefs, such as Mikes Reef, but also because of the numerous wreck diving.

Shipwrecks and Marine Life

Certain wrecks, like The Pedernales which was torpedoed in WWII, are legitimate wrecks, while some were deliberately submerged. Difficulty of dive differs among wrecks, so make sure to consult with a local dive school to determine which one is the best fit for you. The most well-known, The Antilla for example requires a boat to reach and even though some of the ship’s hull is close to the surface, the primary structure is only 18 meters.

A unique chance to experience divers in Aruba can be found in the sunken aircraft located near the Renaissance island. Unfortunately, I was not able to dive it during this trip however it definitely increases the stakes in the case of the fear of wreck dive FOMO.

Aruba’s marine law Aruba as with other places is that you aren’t allowed to be in contact with wildlife. This is especially true for turtles that are often found or laying eggs on the island, as and the underwater life.

Island Excursions In Aruba

A small island people are often surprised to know that you can go on Island excursions starting from Aruba out to even smaller islands.

The most well-known is Renaissance Island, which is privately owned and operated by the hotel that transports guests from its location in the middle of the island to its resort. Visitors who are not hotel guests and want to visit the island may attempt to get day passes that aren’t just scarce, but cost around $100 per day. The primary reason to visit Renaissance Island are the handful of flamingos that are housed on the island. I personally, having heard that these birds are likely to have been clipped on their wings to ensure they are kept in a ‘prison’ to entertain me, I was not at all interested in visiting the place.

Alongside the Renaissance Island is De Palm Island Another all-inclusive island that offers food, water sports drinks, and a variety of other things. Tickets can be purchased for the island on the internet, and for less than half the cost of Renaissance it is possible to enjoy the nature and relax vibes at a lower cost.

There are a few of family-owned and operated reefs and cabins that you can rent however, due to the cost of the rental and boat it is only feasible to larger parties. Our group stayed in one of the tiny wooden homes located at Barcadera Reef for a morning and it was beautiful. The family that owned it the house arranged for a barbecue as we swam and swam away from the mainland.


Where To Stay In Aruba

The majority of resorts and all-inclusives are located on Palm Beach, and you’ll have plenty of options on the hotel booking platforms. Aruba is going through some rethinks however, and the new hotels aren’t likely to be constructed in the near future, as Aruba is trying to restrict the amount of development.

I personally recommend to avoid the large hotels, and instead look into apartment rentals and Airbnb. We stayed at The Gold Coast club, which is a mixture of rental and residential apartments located in the Malmok region of north. Each one of them had a kitchen that is perfect to cook in and save money as well as an indoor pool that guests are able to make use of. Naturally, when you intend to live in a place such as this, a automobile is essential.

Accommodation for budget travelers is scarce in Aruba There are none hostels that I could locate. However, there are some rooms and homestays in homes available on Airbnb.

If you’re looking to spend a lot hotels such as The Renaissance Hotel are among the most well-known, and it is also a chance to access their own island, where the Flamingos can be seen. Personally, I would not want to be in the middle of the city or near the Cruise Port as when the ships arrive the port, it gets busy fast.

If you’re looking for something a little more original, you can actually find Aruba’s only water-based bungalows in Savaneta which is the capital for the entire island.

The Arikok National Park

Just over 20 percent of the island, it It is Arikok National Park. The rugged and dry landscape is a world away from the beaches of resorts on West Coast, however in reality it’s just an easy drive.

It is the National Park is home to one of my favorite beach spots on this island, which is the Dos Playa beach I mentioned earlier. In the summer there are turtles nesting on this stunning beach, divided in two by the striking rock formations, where the violent waves crash and form the forms of the rocks.

Within the Fontein cave there is an ode to the long history of Aruba, due to the Caquetio Indian rock paintings that decorate the walls. Quadiriki caves, which are home to a few bats and windows on the roof, offer a cooler climate to explore and take pictures.

Another treasure in Arikok national park is the Donkey sanctuary. Arikok National Park is the Donkey sanctuary, which is free to enter, although donations are always recommended. Aruba was once awash with donkeys roaming wild that were brought to the country, but as more roads were built, and consequently more deaths from accidents it was decided to set up the sanctuary in order to keep these adorable animals safe.

The park’s national nature reserve is made up of cacti and sand dunes as much as one can see. The most effective way to experience it is to do so with a four-wheel drive or to enjoy adrenaline-filled buggy excursions through the park.

If you decide to swim in the natural pool or go lost in the scenery it is possible to take a few days taking in the splendour within Arikok national park. Arikok National Park.

The Arikok National Park

How Much To Budget For Aruba

It’s not a secret that Aruba is costly, but it is possible to find affordable accommodations and flights, once here, there are a variety of ways to reduce your expenses.

Renting a car is a good idea, and since it’s a small island, the cost of fuel will not be too high. There are a variety of accommodation options, and hotels have kitchens that let people cook.

Although the currency of the country is called the Arubian Florian, a majority of places accept USD and will even display their prices in dollars. Local restaurants like Peanuts close to the capital, listed the costs for meals in Florian and these restaurants always cost less. There are many main courses to enjoy away from the beach for less than $10, while an outdoor meal by the sea with your feet in sand is more expensive.

Stargazing In Aruba

Within the Arikok national park, and close by, is the place to see the most spectacular night-time stargazing on the island.

In the evening, we drove down the dirt road (4WD is vital) to The Ayo Rock Formations close to the park, and we set up our camp in the night under stars. It was a nighttime sky filled with stars and very little light pollution, it was a stunning evening looking at the vastness of the universe.

Stargazing In Aruba

Sashay Down To The Cultural Hub San Nicolas

The most memorable part of my excursion to Aruba was visiting the vibrant and smoky street in San Nicolas.

The city of sunrise is known as the sunrise the majority of tourists will travel towards the south-west of the island to soak up the white sands of Baby Beach. However, here, despite being an hour’s drive from the bustle and shops from the city, it’s possible to discover an entirely different slice of Aruba.

San Nicolas sometimes gets a poor write-up as well as you’ll see prostitution mentioned in the description of the city. Because of some passionate and committed locals, as well as street artists from around the world San Nicolas is getting a fresh look.

The once shabby streets and deteriorated walls are now alive as muralists from all over the world share their work with the city. Every corner you turn, you’ll see a new work of art, no matter if it is sprayed on the wall or fabricated out of the island’s trash.

San Nicolas: Where Aruba’s Carnival Spirit Shines

San Nicolas is also home to the recently constructed carnival museum, which pays homage to this vibrant and energetic festival that runs between January and March each year.

If you’re looking for an unadulterated aspect of the Caribbean style on Aruba You’ll be awestruck by San Nicolas as much as I did.

Begin your journey at The Cosecha Creative Center, which is the pioneer in bringing a fresh look in the town. You can buy artwork by local artists, or turn your hand to make your own. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet some Portuguese street artists, and leave my mark using spray paint on the latest murals in the town.

If you plan your trip just right, steel pans will be heard throughout the streets as extravagant outfits dance around you in a swirl of color. In San Nicolas, was where my heart truly came to life. Every Thursday, you can taste the flavors of the festival in the city, which includes performances, music and crafts that bring the streets to life.

Be on the lookout for events that pop up as part of outdoor street eateries, which will complete your trip to this less-known side of Aruba. If you’re looking for Aruba’s rich culture, make sure to visit the city that is waking up.

Best Time To Visit Aruba / Events

Aruba is located just outside of the zone of hurricanes, so in general Aruba is a year-round destination in terms of temperatures, with an average that is around 28 degrees throughout the year.

The tiniest season is September to November, when the weather is somewhat unpredictable, however the prices are generally less expensive to travel.

From January to March from January to March, the Aruba Carnival is held which is a major event that draws numerous visitors. Although this is an amazing time to visit, make sure to book your accommodation early as possible in order to be a part of the celebration!

Explore The Old And New Of Oranjestad

Oranjestad can be described as a town that that was at the center of the ages with everything from the colonial structures to the contemporary cruise port, you can bet at casinos or visit the historic monuments of the city.

One of the most effective methods to experience the vibe of Oranjestad is to take an organized walking tour. I strongly recommend taking it in the evening with Aruba Walks.

In the city, with two locals who were friendly, our group was led through the most significant historical landmarks in the city, brimming with tales of the city’s history. The benefit of this particular walking tour is the food aspect, with five distinct restaurants being offered.

We tried food from Aruba but also Cuba, Dutch and Spanish all of which contributed in some way to the history that the country has to tell. The three-hour trip was an excellent start to exploring the city, however, you should leave the car at home if you intend to drink throughout the tour!

Exploring Oranjestad: A Colorful Caribbean City

The first thing to be noticed when you arrive at Oranjestad is the vibrant and, even garish structures from those of the Dutch days. The bright pinks stand out against the cheap shop signs, while pastel-colored houses are pleasing to the eye.

The tram that is free and runs around the city, is an excellent option to find your way around and enjoy a leisurely loop around Oranjestad.

If you’re looking to spend some cash, there are many high-end stores on the squares as well as in the malls, along with the usual tourist take-homes. It’s also a hot spot for night-time entertainment, though the majority of my evenings were focused on the white sandy beaches in Palm Beach.

Tourist attractions that are worth a visit include the oldest structure located in Aruba, Fort Zoutman. The next tower was built in 1868, and both were built to defend against pirates. Today, you can visit this Historical Museum here which will provide a comprehensive view of life on the island.

Best Time To Visit Aruba / Events

Oranjestad: Where Horses and Culture Unite

The region that Oranjestad encompasses was once called the horse bay because of the number of horses brought here in the past to roam free. There are blue horse statues throughout the capital, to honor the way the landscape has evolved here.

If you’re looking to experience the culture of Oranjestad You can go to the community art center, or take in an event at the country’s theater which is Cas di Cultura. Cas of Cultura.

The capital is small and walking around is the best way to explore here. You can park your car in the parking lot but be mindful when it’s busy at the port to accommodate cruise terminals, the capital could rapidly become crowded and crowded, so make sure to visit early in the morning, and you’ll have better luck with the parking space and crowds.

The Most Well-Known Aruba Tourist Attractions

There are many options to enjoy your time in Aruba There are a handful of attractions, mostly linked to the past of the island, which are essential to visit on the island.

In close proximity to the Arikok National Park, you’ll discover the Ayo Rock Formations Ayo Rock Formations, a collection of monolithic rock boulders that also contain a cave with the same historical paintings as those found within the park’s national parks.

This is the site where you can visit Balashi Ruins is a place to see how the mining industry in Aruba has changed and disappeared. The 19th century saw the beginning of gold mining. was extremely popular in the area, but today all that is left are the remains of the mine, which you can explore on walking and take in the breathtaking perspectives from the top hill.

A Little Aruba History

It is believed that the Caiquetio Indians are the first inhabitants of Aruba around 3500 years in the past. Drawings of rock from the past are still found in caves on the islands.

In 1499, the Spanish arrived on Aruba and began an era of colonisation that included various countries. The slave trade began on the island as well as shipping residents away. For over 137 years, Spain maintained control over the island.

After that, the Dutch have occupied the island for as long until the present, even though the British colonized it for a time during these time. In 1845, Aruba officially joined the Netherlands Antilles, which includes two other islands nearby. In 1986, Aruba separated of the Netherland Antilles however it never became completely independent. Aruba now enjoys an independent position in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Alto Vista Chapel Alto Vista Chapel is not huge, but due to its slightly elevated position, it offers spectacular perspectives of north Aruba. The chapel that was originally built was destroyed but the present church was inaugurated in 1952 and is located at exactly the same location as the first one, which was built by an Venezuelan missionary.

The chapel was built in 1750. it was the beginning of the conversion of island residents to Christianity.

To the north of the island, with a view of Arashi beach, is located the California Lighthouse. A symbol of iconic significance for the island and the views from the high point of the lighthouse can be breathtaking but you must arrive early in the morning to avoid waiting in line to enter.

The lighthouse’s name was inspired by steamships, California that was shipwrecked near by in 1891. This was the reason for constructing the lighthouse.

A Little Aruba History

Languages On Aruba

English is widely spoken in Aruba and three other languages.

Two official languages spoken in Aruba is the native language, Papiamento. Papiamento as well as Dutch although the majority of people will be able to speak Spanish as well. English at the very least.

The language of the native people only became an official one in the year 2003, but it was in use for more than 300 years. Papiamento is a mixture from Duch, English, and Spanish however its primary majority is Afro-Portuguese Creole.

Dinner Cruises In Aruba

In addition to scuba diving, aquatic sports Aruba Food tour, and perhaps a buggy ride of the park, there’s another excursion that I would highly recommend that you take in Aruba.

Although I wanted to make this Aruba trip guide to reflect the real Aruba There are some touristy things that you must do. A sunset cruise on the water in Aruba is among these things that you can do, and there are several companies offering these.

Certain cruises are more heavy on booze and others, such as those on the Monforte Luxury Dinner Cruise we went on, are more focused on entertainment and food. As we set off to watch the sun’s final moments of the day’s sky The boat was moored and bobbed gently while a tasty dinner was served. If you’re looking for an intimate experience on Aruba it is among the top alternatives.

Sustainability On Aruba

Aruba is among only a handful of Carribean islands where the tap water is safe to drink due to the massive desalination plant located on the island. It is evident that, aside from being an eye-sore, it brings many problems for the island however, at least, you don’t have to purchase a plastic water bottle to drink on the island.

Aruba also has a ban on all single-use plastics beginning in 2019, and is introducing the ban on sunblocks that contain harmful ingredients for the reefs, so make certain to verify the products you’re bringing. If you are planning to visit an island, the ban on single-use plastics is fantastic, however, be aware that some of the biodegradable plastics aren’t as good, since they require years to compost. At Eduardo’s beach shack for instance they were pleased to serve my meal with a recycled paper bowl instead of using compostable plastic.

Sustainability On Aruba

Where To Eat In Aruba?

Eduardo’s beach shack has become the go-to place for breakfast. It is located in Palm Beach, the healthy and vegan options at this location are great for lunch and breakfast however, you will have to pay more for the beachfront location. The Acai Bowls at Palm Beach are an absolute hit.

Local Store is a hip mix of retro wall colors and bright lights. Its menu features American but with the addition of an Aruban twist (Balish BBQ ribs, anyone?) The crowd is a relaxed mix of locals and some tourists. The selection of Aruba beers is a perfect complement to the perfect night of chill.

Quinta del Carmen is an old outhouse of a hospital that is now transformed into a posh restaurant. If you dine in the garden’s front or back terrace inside, the ambience is relaxed and comfortable. It’s more expensive and the food is of top high-end.

The Peanuts Restaurant

The Peanuts restaurant was recommended by a local and the menu that was posted on the menu in Florian and the locals who frequented it confirmed this. There I tried some Aruban stews and dishes, and although the service was slow and the food was not the most delicious however, the cheaper prices and relaxed atmosphere reflected the relaxed atmosphere.

Hadicurari was a treasure of a location located just to the north from Palm Beach. The good vibe restaurant that spills out onto the beach will leave the sand under your feet as well as the traditional Aruban cocktail in your glass. The Ceviche is the most memorable food for me.

Zeerovers is an island-wide restaurant which has grown to be popular, however due to its slightly away from the main roads, it isn’t quite popular yet. For the best fresh fish available on the island You can often observe fishermen catching fish on their boats. Head here.

We also had dinner at some amazing restaurants in Oranjestad The majority of them were part of the Aruba Walking Tour that I wrote about earlier and I would highly recommend taking part in it to taste some of the finest dishes in the capital city.

Where Can You Drink And Party In Aruba?

Craft is a tiny cafe, and bar in the evening, which is located near at the Palm Beach resorts. Serving the finest coffee I’ve found on the island, as well as fantastic cocktails, it’s a great place to hang out during the daytime.

Gusto Nightclub is also in Palm Beach, and here was where I splurged more than I should have on G&Ts, and also danced like a fool in the main stage. A great vibe with a local band and a great group in the back of the bar.

The Windmill is an impressive venue, but I’ll admit I didn’t really remember anything by the time I arrived. It’s a late-night spot just located just a few steps from the Palm Beach hangouts, the outside bar is surrounded by a large windmill brought by The Netherlands, which sits in the middle of the place.

MooMba is another place that lies to the north Palm Beach and is especially frequent on Sunday nights where both visitors and locals alike come to enjoy hip-hop music and refreshing local Balashi beer.

Where To Eat In Aruba?

Other Activities To Enjoy In Aruba

I’ll wrap up my Aruba travel guide and include some other activities that you could do while on Aruba.

As one of the top Golf locations in the Carribean golfers who are able to endure the heat of an afternoon can play the courses in this area. If you are a fan of sports with a bit more speed and speed, then the Islands Racing Track provides somewhere to get your feet moving.

If you’re looking to take in the view from above of Aruba and it was amazing when we came to land (tip to take a seat on the left side of the flight to land gives the most stunning views) There are two choices. Skydiving is a very popular adrenaline activity in Aruba, and small planes and helicopters offer picturesque sightseeing flights as well as photography alternatives.

If you’re looking to know something about the island, head for the Archaeological Museum that provides an understanding of the geography, while a visit and visit to the Aloe Farm and Factory will provide you with a better understanding of an of Islands most well-known exports. It is worth a visit to the Aloe Farm isn’t far from the famous Butterfly garden, which means that these two are easily paired.

If you choose to take your time in Aruba relaxing on the beach or crammed with fun, I hope that this Aruba trip guide provided you a glimpse of what you can do on this one-of-a-kind island, and maybe even convince you to make it your next destination in the Carribean!

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